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PRHS graduates embark on their next journey

Finishing third overall in her class, Kristen Ambrose is all smiles after receiving her diploma ad shaking hands onstage during graduation. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
June 06, 2012
PLYMOUTH—On Saturday, June 2, eager Plymouth Regional High School seniors marched into Plymouth State University's John C. Foley Gymnasium to become this year's graduating class.

The class of 2012 marched in at 9 a.m., and the Commencement ceremony started in an rather unconventional way, with a rap from senior class president and salutatorian Matt Sanborn .

"My mom still doesn't know I'm doing this because it's a surprise," said Sanborn.

Principal Bruce Parsons introduced the three students that finished with the highest GPA's of the senior class, starting with Kristen Ambrose, who was ranked third in the class.

Valedictorian Hannah Kuehl traded in her hiking boots for a more practical pair of shoes as she received her diploma at Plymouth Regional High School Graduation on June 2. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
Ambrose, from Rumney, stood out among her classmates for her independent biological research, which led her to a national conference in Washington, D.C. She participated in track and field, as well as cross country, was recognized as a scholar athlete, was a member of the National Honor Society and an active member of the youth group at the New Hope Christian Fellowship. Ambrose will be attending Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. in the fall.

In her speech to the class, Ambrose spoke fondly about her time at Plymouth Regional High School, particularly in Spanish class. Her speech even included a demonstration on how to properly "backpack turtle" another student's backpack.

"All pranks aside, now we need to leave PRHS," Ambrose reminded students.

Sanborn, aside from being class president, also had the second highest GPA in the senior class, landing him the honor of salutatorian for the class of 2012. His high school credentials include being a three sport athlete; running cross country and track and field; serving as class president, National Honor Society President, and student representative for the school board; playing saxophone in the band. He was also a member of the Senate Youth program, and he actively participates in Plymouth Area Democrats. With interest and experience in government, Sanborn plans to dual major in college in International Affairs and Political Science.

As Sanborn addressed the class for the second time, sans rapping, his lighthearted speech gave the class a lot of laughs, as well as some advice for the future.

"If SAT testing and sleepless nights are the best years of your life, you have done something wrong," joked Sanborn.

He reminded his classmates to work hard and continue to have fun because "You are never too old to have fun."

Valedictorian for the class of 2012 was Hannah Kuehl. She was also a member of National Honor Society, and a three sport athlete (playing volleyball, basketball and lacrosse). Kuehl was also a member of the pep band, prom committee, and participated in various community service activities, including a mission trip to Washington, D.C. to work at various homeless shelters in the area. In the fall, Kuehl will be attending Goucher College in Baltimore, Md.

For her speech, Kuehl wore hiking boots in preparation for the journey ahead to make her point about the adventures ahead and to break her boots in for her summer backpacking.

"As you may have noticed, today, I wore my hiking boots," said Kuehl.

The event's keynote speaker was former PRHS graduate Chris Belmont, who not only sat in the same gym in the same gowns and mortarboards in 1996, but has taken what he learned in high school with him to become a successful teacher and coach, winning a National Teacher of the Year Award in 2012.

"If your path leads you away from here, don't lost touch with your roots from here," said Belmont.

He passed on three lessons to the class of 2012, the first being to become an expert on yourself.

"Becoming an expert on yourself is a messy process," noted Belmont, but he assured students it would pay off on the long run allowing them to make good decisions that would make them happy.

The second lesson was to understand and realize that you and the world are always changing, and that once you recognize that everything and everyone is always changing, you will be able to face new challenges while understanding who you truly are.

The final piece of advice Belmont offered was to remember that no matter how lonely one my feel at times, no one is ever alone in the world.

About 150 graduates proceeded to receive their diplomas and finally joined Sanborn in turning their tassels. Hats flew in the air as proud friends, family and faculty members congratulated the class of 2012 with thunderous applause.

The Plymouth Regional High School band and chorus performed throughout the ceremony, and the band played as the graduates marched out of the gymnasium, both nervous and excited about what the future holds.

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